I’d say that most of the hip hop in our scene can be divided by a few common artistic threads. To give a few examples (as this is just my opinion)….you have the trippy, experimental, far-out hip hop. Think Deepspace5, some of the other cats from ILLECT. Then you have the backpacker / theologian model. Intensely scriptural lyrics packed around okay, player-friendly styles. I think of old school Cross Movement as well as most Lampmode Records artists that often operate under that umbrella. Lastly, you got the trendy hip hop. These artists are creating or maintaining the sounds of today, Rhema Soul and Frontlynaz are tremendous crews that make dope hip hop with radio sensibilities. I give you this brief intro to explain that Viktory’s “Son of the King” falls squarely into the third camp. However, all mainstream is not created equal, and Vik isn’t on the cutting edge of freshness like some of his aforementioned his peers are.
Does that mean the album’s a waste? Definitely not. What you WILL get is an extremely self-assured and assertive flow. It isn’t in the braggadocio sense, as Viktory gives an “I’m-confident-about-everything-I-have-to-say” feel from his rhymes. Humility is one thing, but no one needs to listen to a weak-kneed emcee. Of course, what is he actually saying behind the tight flow?
Remember that sub-genre comparison I made in the beginning? Well, there’s another side to it as well. As much as I enjoy the unique flavors of hip hop in the Christian community, you see the shortcomings that *tend* to be shared in each of the different breeds. Your straight theology base can sometimes lack music that sounds as dope as the content it carries. Or, it might be hot, but extremely niche in its appeal (I rarely bump a song about the limited atonement while playing ball or in a car with friends). The experimental types are often high on concepts and lyrical excellence, but may not edify my soul in the same way as the other groups, because they don’t borrow as heavily from the Author of all that is deep. Finally, in the mainstream arena, they can get bogged down by flavor-of-the-month beats and “nursery rhymes” (“A,B,C/1,2,3”). That happens to be Viktory’s key problem
The rhymes are just way too simple. When you match that with concepts that though cool, aren’t insanely innovative, you get a very repetitive record. “Get Hot,” talks about how to avoid lukewarm living by getting on fire for God while “On Fire” talks about being on fire for God. While there’s nothing new under the sun, the best artists in any genre come up with unique ways to convey timeless truths. That doesn’t happen often on “Son of the King.”
Lastly, the beatsmiths usually give decent, but unspectacular instrumentals. Average 808’s, background grunts don’t give Viktory the best platform to accentuate his strengths on the MIC. I did enjoy “Rewind”, as the soulful vibe is a fantastic backdrop to Vik’s personal reflections on God’s divine providence over his life.
So while there’s no issue with the message Viktory gives, I wish his dish had a little more flavor, garnish, and fill (excuse the painfully-whack food metaphors). I still think there’s good stuff to be heard on “Son of the King.” Stronger lyrical construction and catchier beats would make this something all hip hop listeners could salivate over.
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Review by: DJ Guardian
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